So…there’s an interesting trend to report in the life of Deirdre. At first it might sound like it’s the high-and-mighty variety, but I promise you it’s not.
The trend? People tend to give me things I want.
A few examples:
- The guy in front of me at Starbucks let me go ahead of him in line because I was in a hurry (and he had a loooong list of drink orders for everyone back at the office)
- My boss let me cross-train on a new position I was interested in, which led me to get a better job just a few weeks later (this was years ago, back when I had a boss who wasn’t me)
- The awesome woman at my supermarket’s sushi counter made up a special, fresh veggie roll with lots of avocado…just for me
To again be clear, there’s nothing high-and-mighty about any of this. People don’t give me what I want because they think I’m all that.
People give me what I want because I ask for it.
Stay with me. This isn’t as obvious as this sounds.
I wrote a blog post a few years ago about the need to be explicit when asking for things. At the time I thought the biggest barrier to people getting what they wanted was that they hinted instead of asking directly.
Since then I’ve figured out that, for many, the issue isn’t about how they ask for things.
It’s that they don’t ask at all.
It happens all the time to all kinds of people…
- To people who prefer a morning meeting with their potential client…but wind up meeting at end of the day when they’re exhausted
- To people who prefer to have lots of mustard on their sandwich…and wind up with a light wisp of it
- To people in the office who prefer to work a different schedule, try a new task, create a new style of report…and just wind up stuck in the same situation as always
It’s a simple concept. The number one way to get what you want is to ask for it. And yet, so often, people don’t.
There are many reasons for this, and they are understandable. They don’t want to offend anybody. They don’t want to put anybody out. They don’t want to seem pushy.
And so they sit back and hope things go the way they want, acting as the passive player on something that, in all likelihood, matters more to them than to the other person.
I get the concerns about upsetting people, of course. And sure, there are times when the request for something might truly be offensive or unreasonable.
There are so many times, if we just ask nicely for what we want, people will have no problem with it. Trust me…I know this intimately. Because I’ve learned a few things from this ask-for-what-you-want strategy.
- I’ve learned that, a lot of the time, the other person simply hasn’t known that something mattered to me until I told them. So it’s no big deal.
- I’ve learned that, a lot of the time, the other person hasn’t even thought of this option until I’ve asked for it. So it’s no big deal.
- I’ve learned that, a lot of the time, it’s no problem at all because the other person honestly doesn’t care. Seriously, it doesn’t matter to them at all. So it’s no big deal.
Sometimes, in fact, giving me what I want makes the other person smile, because they know they’re making someone’s day (really, who doesn’t like extra avocado on their veggie roll?!). And when I heartily thank them, they appreciate it.
Have there been times I’ve been told no? Of course! But that’s always been fine, because I go into it knowing that a no is a possibility, because I start out my request with a smile so it doesn’t make things weird, and because, in the end, sometimes we don’t get what we want.
But a whole lot of people can get it a whole lot more than they think.
So give it a go…try it with something small. Chances are, you might just find you get what you want more…
…and life just might get a little more delicious.
Now go do good…and do it well.
PS: Special thanks to Ida at the Ralphs in downtown San Diego for always being so friendly and accommodating…and for being such an awesome veggie-roll maker!